Athens Traditions


Athens traditions college students won’t find elsewhere

Bailey Gallion / Asst. News Editor

Some college traditions, like homecoming or all-nighters in the library, are universal, but certain Athens and Ohio University traditions are unique. Here are the experiences OU students will need to check out by the time they graduate:

Athens Block

Many of the bricks in the roads and sidewalks of Athens bear the name of the local company that made them, Athens Block LLC. The bricks have become an unofficial emblem for the town and a part of the OU tradition.

Students through the years have stolen the bricks to take a physical piece of Athens with them. The tradition dates back to the 1960s, according to a previous Post report.

Stealing bricks is illegal, though, and could result in criminal charges. University officials also discourage students from removing bricks because it can make sidewalks more dangerous and less accessible to people in wheelchairs.

For those who don’t want to acquire souvenirs illegally, there are other options. Gift shops sell replica bricks and items bearing the “Athens Block” design that won't leave holes in the street.

Athens eats

Uptown Athens houses numerous local restaurants. A few big-name franchises occupy Court Street, including Wendy’s, Chipotle and Jimmy John’s, but the most memorable spots in town are local establishments.

Students seeking a daytime lunch spot can eat at Bagel Street Deli, Court Street Diner and many other locations. Coffee shops like Donkey Coffee and Court Street Coffee provide students a study space or a caffeine jolt between classes. Local late night “drunk food” locations include O’Betty’s Red Hot, Union Street Diner and Uptown Grill, home of the infamous Chicken ‘N Waffle sandwich.

The graffiti wall

Three walls outside of Bentley Hall function as designated spaces for student and community expression. Students usually refer to the the walls collectively as “the graffiti wall.”

For OU students, the wall and the slogans that appear on it can be a fun tradition, a nuisance or a point of contention. Student organizations paint it to advertise events and celebrate achievements, and local artists decorate it with spray-painted murals.

Whether their experiences with the graffiti wall are positive or negative, many OU students graduate with memories about the paintings on the wall.

Petting Pumpkin

Some students develop a fondness for Pumpkin, a pudgy orange cat who lives at the Athens County Board of Elections building, 15 S. Court St.

Athens County Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey and Deputy Director Penny Brooks adopted Pumpkin in 2012, according to a previous Post report. The local celebrity often occupies a windowsill in the building and watches people on the sidewalk.

Students can stop in to pet him or wave as they walk by. Pumpkin also has a guestbook and an Instagram account.

A post shared by Pumpkin (@pumpkinathens) on

Exploring The Ridges

On a hill overlooking campus sits The Ridges, a former mental institution.

The Athens Lunatic Asylum opened in 1874. The facility was known for its beautiful grounds and gardens. As patient population increased during the later years of its operation, treatments such as shock therapy and lobotomies increased. The state of Ohio gave The Ridges to OU in 1988.

The place is rumored to be haunted. The Ridges features old buildings and cemeteries. The gravestones in the cemeteries are labeled with numbers, not names, marking the patients buried there.

Walking tours are available for students who want to explore the grounds and learn more about the institution’s history.

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Development by: Taylor Johnston / Digital Production Editor

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